Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vigil (Anticipated) of the Feast of All Saints

Today is the Vigil (Anticipated) of the Feast of All Saints.  This is so because the Church does not hold vigils on Holy Days of obligation, such as Feasts or Sundays, and hence the vigil is held on the Saturday before.

Today is a day of fasting, and all the baptized are bound by this precept, as they are all bound to the laws of the Church.  Heretics and Christians alike are bound to the laws of the Church.

"He who breaks a fast of the Church to which he is bound, does not sin mortally, unless he does this out of contempt and disobedience." - CONDEMNED in decrees of Sept. 24, 1665, and of March 18, 1666, by Pope Alexander VII (Denzinger 1123)

In other words, failing to observe the Church's fasts through culpable ignorance is not sufficient to exonerate one from sin.

Friday, October 29, 2010

On the Validity of Sacraments

Please read also:
The Most Holy Eucharist in today's world
The Church's Sacraments Today

The question of the validity of sacraments among the various sects is one that has been posed numerous times, and I also wrestled at one point with the various conflicting bits of information out there.

You have some groups saying that the Novus Ordo, for example, is a valid Mass and has a valid priesthood, when others say that they are not valid at all.  People, of course, want to know the truth of the matter, but often for the wrong reasons.  They fully realize that the men offering these Masses or "Masses" are heretics or schismatics, but they would look past this if only they could receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, truly present in every validly consecrated Eucharist.

While they are right to desire this above all things, still, we may never, ever, ever procure what is good by committing sin (we may never sin, that good may come of it).  And this is the problem with the question of sacramental validity.  The question is proposed as though validity in itself renders the sacrament efficacious towards the end for which it was instituted, namely to produce or increase grace in the soul of a man.

But this is a fallacy, and the question of sacramental validity becomes a red herring, distracting many from the insidious danger of communing with heretics in sacred matters.  This is ALWAYS forbidden, valid sacraments or no!  And yet we see an increasing push among modern day heretics who would have us commit this most grievous of sins, despite the valiant sacrifices made by the saints of old, who would rather have died than to insult God in this way.

It is not the goal of this article to discuss whether or not such and such a sect possesses valid sacraments or a valid priesthood.  That being said, however, it still behooves us to examine the true doctrine  and principles on sacramental validity, lest practical errors in this regard should give rise to sins of heresy or schism. 

What is required for a valid priesthood?

For a valid priesthood to exist, there must first and foremost be a bishop who can trace his ordination back to Jesus Christ and the Apostles.

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 8, 1439, ex cathedra: "The ordinary minister of this sacrament is a bishop. The effect is an increase of grace to make the person a suitable minister of Christ."

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 8, 1439, ex cathedra: "All these sacraments are made up of three elements: namely, things as the matter, words as the form, and the person of the minister who confers the sacrament with the intention of doing what the church does. If any of these is lacking, the sacrament is not effected.  Three of the sacraments, namely baptism, confirmation and orders, imprint indelibly on the soul a character, that is a kind of stamp which distinguishes it from the rest. Hence they are not repeated in the same person. The other four, however, do not imprint a character and can be repeated."

Indelible means that this character cannot ever be erased by any means whatsoever, including the profession of heresy, schism or apostasy, let alone mortal sin, whether private or public.  As such, the bishop who should fall away into heresy retains all of the power of his ordination, while losing the right to exercise it.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supp., Q. 38, Art. 2: "When a bishop who has fallen into heresy is reconciled he is not reconsecrated. Therefore he did not lose the power which he had of conferring Orders [...] Hence others say that they confer the sacraments validly, but do not confer grace with them, not that the sacraments are lacking in efficacy, but on account of the sins of those who receive the sacraments from such persons despite the prohibition of the Church. This is the third and the true opinion."

Can Ordained Heretics, Schismatics or Apostates still Consecrate the Eucharist?

Since, as St. Thomas says above, a heretical bishop does not lose the power of conferring orders, it logically follows that he also does not lose the power to consecrate the Eucharist (though he loses the right).  Furthermore, since he can indeed confer orders (though he is forbidden to do so), it also follows that those whom he has ordained can also consecrate the Eucharist, though also not without sin, since they have sinned by seeking ordination from one outside the Church and neither have they yet been received into communion with the Catholic Church.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Tertia Pars, Q. 82, Art. 7, reply to Obj 3: "Consequently, if a priest severed from the unity of the Church celebrates mass, not having lost the power of order, he consecrates Christ's true body and blood; but because he is severed from the unity of the Church, his prayers have no efficacy."

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Tertia Pars, Question 82, Art. 9: "I answer that, As was said above , heretical, schismatical, excommunicate, or even sinful priests, although they have the power to consecrate the Eucharist, yet they do not make a proper use of it; on the contrary, they sin by using it. But whoever communicates with another who is in sin, becomes a sharer in his sin."

Saint Augustine, Address to the People of the Church at Caesarea: “No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have the sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer amen, one can have faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost [not a supernatural, saving faith], and preach it too, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

St. Augustine on the Apostolicity of Scripture

St. Augustine, Contra Faustum, Book 33: "You are so hardened in your errors against the testimonies of Scripture, that nothing can be made of you; for whenever anything is quoted against you, you have the boldness to say that it is written not by the apostle, but by some pretender under his name. The doctrine of demons which you preach is so opposed to Christian doctrine, that you could not continue, as professing Christians, to maintain it, unless you denied the truth of the apostolic writings. How can you thus do injury to your own souls?

"Where will you find any authority, if not in the Gospel and apostolic writings? How can we be sure of the authorship of any book, if we doubt the apostolic origin of those books which are attributed to the apostles by the Church which the apostles themselves founded, and which occupies so conspicuous a place in all lands, and if at the same time we acknowledge as the undoubted production of the apostles what is brought forward by heretics in opposition to the Church, whose authors, from whom they derive their name, lived long after the apostles?

"And do we not see in profane literature that there are well-known authors under whose names many things have been published after their time which have been rejected, either from inconsistency with their ascertained writings, or from their not having been known in the lifetime of the authors, so as to be banded down with the confirmatory statement of the authors themselves, or of their friends?

"To give a single example, were not some books published lately under the name of the distinguished physician Hippocrates, which were not received as authoritative by physicians? And this decision remained unaltered in spite of some similarity in style and matter: for, when compared to the genuine writings of Hippocrates, these books were found to be inferior; besides that they were not recognized as his at the time when his authorship of his genuine productions was ascertained. Those books, again, from a comparison with which the productions of questionable origin were rejected, are with certainty attributed to Hippocrates; and any one who denies their authorship is answered only by ridicule, simply because there is a succession of testimonies to the books from the time of Hippocrates to the present day, which makes it unreasonable either now or hereafter to have any doubt on the subject.

"How do we know the authorship of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Varro, and other similar writers, but by the unbroken chain of evidence? So also with the numerous commentaries on the ecclesiastical books, which have no canonical authority, and yet show a desire of usefulness and a spirit of inquiry. How is the authorship ascertained in each case, except by the author's having brought his work into public notice as much as possible in his own lifetime, and, by the transmission of the information from one to another in continuous order, the belief becoming more certain as it becomes more general, up to our own day; so that, when we are questioned as to the authorship of any book, we have no difficulty in answering?

"But why speak of old books? Take the books now before us: should any one, after some years, deny that this book was written by me, or that Faustus' was written by him, where is evidence for the fact to be found but in the information possessed by some at the present time, and transmitted by them through successive generations even to distant times?

"From all this it follows, that no one who has not yielded to the malicious and deceitful suggestions of lying devils, can be so blinded by passion as to deny the ability of the Church of the apostles— a community of brethren as numerous as they were faithful— to transmit their writings unaltered to posterity, as the original seats of the apostles have been occupied by a continuous succession of bishops to the present day, especially when we are accustomed to see this happen in the case of ordinary writings both in the Church and out of it."

Philosophy and the Catholic Church

O how ridiculous are the men who are now multiplied in the world who accuse the Church of having apostatized by permitting the study of philosophy among the clergy!  These radical men rail against great Saints such as Thomas Aquinas, and popes of the Renaissance age, seemingly as though their mere mention of philosophers such as Plotinus, Plato or Aristotle is itself an act of apostasy!

These men are fools, plain and simple, who are committing grievous acts of schism against the Church for denouncing as heretics the legitimate hierarchy and Saints of the Church, on account alone of their use of philosophy in their exegetical works.

However, these inconsistent men, who out of one side of their mouths call philosophy a "taint" upon Christian doctrine, are nearly unanimous in their praise for such Church Fathers as St. Augustine, and certainly the Apostle St. Paul.

Yet are they consistent in doing so, or is hypocrisy revealed in them?  Did not Saint Paul have at least enough familiarity with the philosophers to quote a line from one of their poems, and this on the spur of the moment while in Athens, and for the purpose of evangelizing to the Greeks?

Acts of the Apostles 17:18, 22-23, 28-29: "And certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics disputed with him; and some said: What is it, that this word sower would say? But others: He seemeth to be a setter forth of new gods; because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection... But Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious. For passing by, and seeing your idols, I found an altar also, on which was written: To the unknown God. What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you... For in him we live, and move, and are; as some also of your own poets said: For we are also his offspring. Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man." 

In saying these things to the Athenians, St. Paul was not telling them that they knew or adored the true God, or that they are His sons or daughters (lest he contradict St. John, who said " But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.") 

Not at all.  But St. Paul was using the fifth line of the poem "Phaenomena" by the philosopher Aratus, in order to better convey his message to the intellectual Athenians.

Aratus, Phaenomena 1-5: "1. Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken. 2. For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus. 3. Even the sea and the harbour are full of this deity. 4. Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zeus. 5. For we are indeed his offspring..."

Hence, St. Paul was making a reference that implied that it is not Zeus to whom all are indebted, but Jesus Christ, the God by whom we were all created, and by whom we are offered redemption.

St. Clement of Alexandria also was a student of the philosophy, and on many occasions referred to the previous doctrines of various philosophers, not as though implying that they knew everything, but saying rather that they did indeed get certain things right, and as such some of their methods of thought are still useful for Christians.

St. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 3: "Follow God, stripped of arrogance, stripped of fading display, possessed of that which is yours, which is good, what alone cannot be taken away— faith towards God, confession towards Him who suffered, beneficence towards men, which is the most precious of possessions. For my part, I approve of Plato, who plainly lays it down as a law, that a man is not to labour for wealth of gold or silver, nor to possess a useless vessel which is not for some necessary purpose, and moderate; so that the same thing may serve for many purposes, and the possession of a variety of things may be done away with."

St. Augustine, revered by Christians and heretics alike as a great Christian thinker and Church Father was very well read when it came to philosophy.  Many times did he quote the philosophers in his writings, sometimes agreeing with them and at other times showing the errors in their thinking, and always doing so to prop up and defend some truth of the Catholic religion.

St. Augustine, City of God, Book 8, Chapter 1: "We shall require to apply our mind with far greater intensity to the present question than was requisite in the solution and unfolding of the questions handled in the preceding books; for it is not with ordinary men, but with philosophers that we must confer concerning the theology which they call natural.

"For it is not like the fabulous, that is, the theatrical; nor the civil, that is, the urban theology: the one of which displays the crimes of the gods, while the other manifests their criminal desires, which demonstrate them to be rather malign demons than gods. It is, we say, with philosophers we have to confer with respect to this theology,— men whose very name, if rendered into Latin, signifies those who profess the love of wisdom.

"Now, if wisdom is God, who made all things, as is attested by the divine authority and truth, (Wisdom 7:24-27) then the philosopher is a lover of God. But since the thing itself, which is called by this name, exists not in all who glory in the name—for it does not follow, of course, that all who are called philosophers are lovers of true wisdom—we must needs select from the number of those with whose opinions we have been able to acquaint ourselves by reading, some with whom we may not unworthily engage in the treatment of this question.

"For I have not in this work undertaken to refute all the vain opinions of the philosophers, but only such as pertain to theology, which Greek word we understand to mean an account or explanation of the divine nature. Nor, again, have I undertaken to refute all the vain theological opinions of all the philosophers, but only of such of them as, agreeing in the belief that there is a divine nature, and that this divine nature is concerned about human affairs, do nevertheless deny that the worship of the one unchangeable God is sufficient for the obtaining of a blessed life after death, as well as at the present time; and hold that, in order to obtain that life, many gods, created, indeed, and appointed to their several spheres by that one God, are to be worshipped.

"These approach nearer to the truth than even Varro; for, while he saw no difficulty in extending natural theology in its entirety even to the world and the soul of the world, these acknowledge God as existing above all that is of the nature of soul, and as the Creator not only of this visible world, which is often called heaven and earth, but also of every soul whatsoever, and as Him who gives blessedness to the rational soul—of which kind is the human soul—by participation in His own unchangeable and incorporeal light.

"There is no one, who has even a slender knowledge of these things, who does not know of the Platonic philosophers, who derive their name from their master Plato. Concerning this Plato, then, I will briefly state such things as I deem necessary to the present question, mentioning beforehand those who preceded him in time in the same department of literature."

Those who would condemn St.Thomas Aquinas or the hierarchy of the Church for using philosophy, then, might as well (which God forbid!) condemn St. Paul himself for saying the following:

1st Corinthians 9: 22-23: "To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all.  And I do all things for the gospel's sake: that I may be made partaker thereof."

And they might as well condemn St. Augustine for following in St. Paul's footsteps.  God forbid!

St. Augustine, Letter 118 3:16: "Among those, again, who say that our supreme and only good is to enjoy God, by whom both we ourselves and all things were made, the most eminent have been the Platonists, who not unreasonably judged it to belong to their duty to confute the Stoics and Epicureans— the latter especially, and almost exclusively."

But study of the philosophers must be balanced along with study of theology, as the decree from the Council of Lateran V states:

Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council, Session 8: "And since truth cannot contradict truth, we define that every statement contrary to the enlightened truth of the faith is totally false and we strictly forbid teaching otherwise to be permitted. We decree that all those who cling to erroneous statements of this kind, thus sowing heresies which are wholly condemned, should be avoided in every way and punished as detestable and odious heretics and infidels who are undermining the Catholic Faith.

"Moreover we strictly enjoin on each and every philosopher who teaches publicly in the universities or elsewhere, that when they explain or address to their audience the principles or conclusions of philosophers, where these are known to deviate from the true faith—as in the assertion of the soul's mortality or of there being only one soul or of the eternity of the world and other topics of this kind—they are obliged to devote their every effort to clarify for their listeners the truth of the Christian religion, to teach it by convincing arguments, so far as this is possible, and to apply themselves to the full extent of their energies to refuting and disposing of the philosophers' opposing arguments, since all the solutions are available.

"But it does not suffice occasionally to clip the roots of the brambles, if the ground is not dug deeply so as to check them beginning again to multiply, and if there are not removed their seeds and root causes from which they grow so easily. That is why, since the prolonged study of human philosophy—which God has made empty and foolish, as the Apostle says, when that study lacks the flavouring of divine wisdom and the light of revealed truth—sometimes leads to error rather than to the discovery of the truth, we ordain and rule by this salutary constitution, in order to suppress all occasions of falling into error with respect to the matters referred to above, that from this time onwards none of those in sacred orders, whether religious or seculars or others so committed, when they follow courses in universities or other public institutions, may devote themselves to the study of philosophy or poetry for longer than five years after the study of grammar and dialectic, without their giving some time to the study of theology or pontifical law. Once these five years are past, if someone wishes to sweat over such studies, he may do so only if at the same time, or in some other way, he actively devotes himself to theology or the sacred canons; so that the Lord's priests may find the means, in these holy and useful occupations, for cleansing and healing the infected sources of philosophy and poetry."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not All Change Is Evolution

Please also read "Comprehensive Catechism: Worldwide Flood and Creation" and listen to the  "Evolution vs Creation Science Audios".

Some change is indeed real evolution.  For example, a painter who works assiduously, over time refining his techniques, will improve greatly from the time he began to paint.  This is evolution.  And if it were true that single celled organisms gradually changed over millions and billions of years  to become complex creatures, then yes indeed that would be evolution too.  The real story of the changes that have happened to life on this earth, however, is not evolution at all.   No animals produce anything but variations OF THEIR OWN KIND. This is indeed change, and  although evolution is also change, not all change is evolution.   In fact, we shall see that the changes recorded in history, biology, geology - the physical sciences - do not point to evolution, but to something quite to the contrary: a degradation of the world and all things soever contained therein.  In short, the evidence clearly points to a fallen world.

The Beginning

Consider the Biblical account of creation, and how the work was characterized.  Seven times exactly over the course of the six days of creation, did God see His works, that they were good.  In fact, the seventh time, he saw that everything He had created was very good.

No human beings were there to watch the earth being formed. No man or woman observed the first plant grow out of the soil. Nobody saw the first creature crawling along the ground except for the Holy One who created it.

The world didn't happen by accident! It was God who made the heavens and the earth. He also made light and dark, and this was the first day and night.

Genesis also tells us , the sky, the sea, and dry land were made by Him. He filled the earth with all the different kinds of plants. Then on the fourth day God made the sun, moon and stars to shine because He commanded it to be so. This light shining on earth would later help man measure the passing of time and the seasons. These heavenly bodies also regulate the tides on earth. They are extremely predictable - like clockwork. It is one amazing result of God's planning.

After this God made all the water creatures, and different kinds of birds and flying creatures on the same day, but He didn't make the animals that live on the land until the next day. And all living things were created as separate and unrelated kinds of creatures, to have offspring and fill the earth. All the plants and animals were ordered to reproduce their own kinds.

Last of all, the Lord made man on the sixth day. The first man was made from the slime of the earth, and the first woman was created out of a rib taken from the man's side. God named the man Adam and then Adam named his wife, Eve because she would be the mother of all mankind. All of us alive today are descended from this first married couple.

Man was unique. He was made to be completely different from any animal. Only man was made in the image of God, possessing a rational nature on account of his immortal soul. Monkeys, apes, and all other animals were created without rational immortal souls. This difference makes man extra special to the Creator. On account of his great dignity, God put man in charge of all His creation, gave him authority over all the creatures, and told him to multiply and fill the earth.

When God finished all His work of creating, He declared that the world and everything in it was "very good”.  And then on the seventh day He rested.

Genesis 2:8: "And our Lord God had planted a Paradise of pleasure from the beginning:  wherein he placed man whom he had formed."

This was not a violent world of "survival of the fittest", or "dog eat dog", or "kill or be killed".

The Good World

This created world was very different in the beginning than it is now. There was no death or violence on that beautifully created earth. Human beings and all animals ate plants.  Note that even modern day science recognizes a "vestigial organ" in man, namely the appendix, which science admits was used for digesting the tough fibrous cellulose in plants.  Human beings, then, not only ate all the fruits and veggies we do today, but we were capable of digesting much tougher and more robust plant nutrition in the beginning.  No living thing suffered to keep any thing else alive (note that animals are animated by spirit, but their spirits are not immortal).

God gave the first man and woman a beautiful garden in a place called Eden. Adam and Eve had the job of caring for it. In the center of the garden God placed a tree which He called the Tree of Life.

God gave the first man only one rule was never to be broken. They could eat from all the trees in the garden except one which God called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam was warned that if they ate from this tree, the result would be death.

If you ask what right did God have to make such a rule, the answer is easy - it is His earth - He made it. He had created man. It was His air Adam and Eve were breathing and His time they were using. God had every right to make the rules, and man had no right to break them! This is still true today.

God did not fail in His plan for man, which was to make him eternally happy, but man chose to rebel, of his own free will.  If God did not give him free will, then his love would be forced, and hence not really love at all.  But God allowed the free will to love - or to disobey - foreseeing that He would exalt man's nature even more wonderfully than He had created it, by assuming human nature in the person of God the Son, who existed eternally as the second person of the Most Holy Trinity, God the Word, but who would enter into time as the Incarnate Wisdom Himself, Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man.  This He did in order to redeem man and establish him anew, humbly bringing the dignity of the Godhead together with the nature of man.

God always foresees how He will bring great good out of the evil that men choose to perform, and He gives every man who works evil the promise that if he should turn away from his evil ways, he will be forgiven (James 5:20, Ezechiel 18:32).

From Good to Bad

Adam and his wife Eve disobeyed their Creator. This disobedience was the first sin of man; the first human beings sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. Sadly mankind's disobedience cut them off from direct spiritual fellowship with God. Now they were spiritually dead and had become sinners; they would pass this unhappy status on to their offspring by nature.

God also carried out the rest of the punishment He had warned them about. The man and his wife were sent out of the garden so they could not eat from the Tree of Life and physically live forever. Now they would grow old and die. Death entered the history of earth.

Most people don't realize this means we do not die because we get old. Rather we get old and physically die because we are sinners, and God's just penalty for sin is death.

God's judgment of death on mans sin was just - Adam and Eve had disobeyed and deserved what they got. But God's judgment was merciful as well. Unknown to us at the time, God would use death to provide a way out of mans dilemma, and enable us to come back to Him and enjoy His friendship forever.

The Curse

God also cursed the ground with thorns and thistles, so that the world was no longer "very good" as it once was. Earth began to become a place where none of us would really want to live forever. Sooner or later every one of us begins to realize it surely has to be better than this!

For the next sixteen hundred years after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, their descendants lived very long lives. The longest lifespan recorded was nine hundred sixty-nine years for a man called Mathusala. The probable reasons for such long lives are these: the world was new, pollution was almost non-existent and genetic defects, such those caused by radiation or chemicals, had not built up, the atmosphere was better equipped to repel the radiation of the sun and contained more oxygen at a higher atmospheric pressure (until the flood changed the earth's climate, which also introduced winter to the world). The man Noe was the last person to live over nine hundred years.

Adam and Eve's descendants continued to disobey God's instructions. Within fifteen hundred years after creation, people all over the world became sinful, violent and corrupt. The earth became such a bad place that God declared He would wipe out the human race and the land animals by sending a flood to drown the whole earth.

Only the man named Noe obeyed God. Around the time he was five hundred years old , God told him to build a very large boat called an Ark, so he and his family could be saved from drowning during the flood.

Over the next hundred years Noe built the ark.  Finally God sent pairs of every kind of air breathing, land dwelling creature and bird to the Ark for Noe and his family to care for during the coming flood. Then God caused water to erupt from the earth and rain to fall from the sky for forty days and nights. This is the first record of rain and it was a judgment on sin. When Noe's family and all the animals were safely on board God shut the door of the ark. The rest of the earth was doomed to die in the flood.

But even here, God worked His justice with mercy, for we learn from St. Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church, that not all the souls of those who died in the flood were condemned to eternal hell, but that some were sent to a place of purgation, where they would then also await the coming of the Son of God to redeem them.

1 St. Peter 3:18-20: "Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison: Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water."

The Flood

This world wide disaster caused great destruction of the land and killed the land animals and all the rebellious people. But God kept Noe and his wife, his three sons and their wives safe in the Ark, along with all the creatures He had sent to Noe . A total of only eight people survived, and all of us living on earth today are descended from Noe.

Two of each KIND of animal could fit on a boat about two thirds this size. The ark had plenty of room. The Flood destroyed every air-breathing creature on the earth - except for Noe and his family on board the Ark. They were saved because they obeyed God.

From Bad to Worse

After the flood, God warned man the weather would change. There would be cold winters and hot summers. Life would not be as easy as it was before the flood.  This is consonant with modern "science", which holds to the view that during "prehistoric" times (more correctly called pre-flood), there was not only a higher oxygen content in the atmosphere, but also that atmospheric pressure was much greater.  Modern "science" accounts for this as the reason some dinosaurs and other animals grew to be so large, but foolishly asserts, contrary to all evidence, that this was millions of years ago.

God knew that places such as deserts would develop on earth. Snow would come. Winters would mean that plants could no longer provide sufficient nutrition for people. Immediately after Noe got off the Ark, God gave people permission to eat animals, birds and fish as well as plants (Genesis 9:3). To do this people needed to hunt and kill animals. With the passing of time, even animals and birds and water creatures started to eat each other. Eventually some began to eat men.

Slowly the world became a place where only the fittest survived and it was kill or be killed. As a result some creatures such as the Dodo bird have been eaten off the earth. Others have died out as the world's climate degenerated. Some have been killed off by men because they were a threat to human life. Sadly many of God's marvelous creatures have become extinct.

After the Flood, God had told Noe's family to have many descendants and to spread out over all the earth. But within two hundred years most of Noe's descendants had deliberately forgotten God's instructions and rebelled against Him again. Instead of obeying God and spreading out across the globe, they wanted to make themselves great by staying in one place and building a tower to reach heaven. Instead of worshiping the Creator, this was the beginning of worship of created things, such as the sun, moon and stars.

The Tower of Babel

The place of their rebellion has become known as Babel. It was where God judged them again, by giving the various family groups different languages so they could never again unite in rebellion against Him. These different language groups did spread out over the earth and became the ancestors of all the different races of people now on earth.

This event answers the question of those who would ask "if creation is true, then were did the differences in skin colour, eye colour, etc come from?"  It is simple.  The genetics of two individuals are never identical, and thus when groups of people are forced to associate with only others who share the same genetic dispositions (higher or lower skin pigment levels, or what have you), then their tendency is to produce offspring who also manifest similar genetics.  So if, for example, Adam and Eve had neither fair skin, nor dark skin, but tanned skin, then no matter what colour your skin, there is no reason to doubt you are descended from Adam and Eve via Noe's family down through the people who were scattered from the Tower of Babel, since the variation between Adam and Eve's genes were sufficient to account for all the diversity we see today.

As men migrated around the world and conditions became harsher, a surprising effect was noticed over the next thousand years. Lifespans rapidly got shorter. While Noe lived to nine hundrend and fifty years, his grandchildren lived only four hundred years and their grandchildren only two hundred years. Abraham lived one hundred and seventy-five years, and Moses only lived one hundred and twenty years.  You and I will be hard pressed to make it to one hundred years of age. The same environmental factors (decreased oxygen and atmospheric pressure, increased deadly radiation from the sun, multiplication of genetic defects due to the degraded breeding stock, etc.) would have influenced animals as well, which is one reason why so many large land creatures have died out, or are so much smaller today.

We know all this because God cared enough about man to give us a written record of what happened - and this record matches perfectly with the physical evidence found all over the earth.

The saddest consequence of all these events is that the whole human race, including you and I, have inherited the problem of rebellion against our Creator that began with Adam and Eve. No matter who we are, we are born into original sin, born of a fallen nature, born slaves to Satan, from which we can only be delivered by baptism and Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

From Good to Bad to Worse to Your Choice

None of us can blame God for the war or suffering on earth. It is men who shoot the guns in war. We are the ones who hate each other, cheat our friends and damage the environment. But there is good news. The Creator does offer us a free way out.

He has cared enough to make a way to bring mankind back into friendship with Him.  Approximately twenty-two hundred years after Babel (or about two thousand years ago) God sent His Son Jesus Christ to this earth, to be born as a man. Jesus obeyed God all his life. He never sinned. Yet Christ was put to death when the religious leaders and the civil authorities of his day worked together to crucify him.

Remember: Where did death come from? It was the penalty for sin - the result of man disobeying God, but Jesus had never sinned!

Therefore, because Jesus did not sin against God, He had no need to die to pay for His own sins, of which there was none. This means His death could rightly be accepted by God as sufficient payment for the sin of a man:  Adam's sin.  Since Jesus is also God, His death is of INFINITE VALUE, and can be applied to pay for the sins of any or all of Adam's descendants.  One living man, Adam, sinned and brought death into the world; so the death of one sinless man, Jesus, could pay the penalty and then some, so we could be forgiven. What good news!

To show that the penalty was fully paid and that He was the Son of God, Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Death has been conquered and we can be offered eternal life!  All we must do is accept it, believe and obey God and His supreme law:

St. Matthew 22:36-40: "Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets."

This we do by good works:

St. James 2:1-20: "So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.  But some man will say:  Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith. Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"

From Your Choice to Glory

Because God wants all people to come into a right relationship with Him, any who admit their sin and have Faith in Jesus Christ, will be welcomed into heaven as a son or daughter of God. If you humble yourself and do this, your sins will not be counted against you, and when you physically die and depart from this sin cursed earth, you will not only spend eternity with God in heaven, but you will receive your body, freed from the weakness of mortality. The new creation will have no death or violence, sickness or sadness, pain or sorrow. All tears will be wiped away. The curse that came with Adam's sin will be forever removed by God and everything will be very good, just as God had created it, with the added bonus that we will be His sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. We will see God face to face and enjoy his presence forever.

The Other Choice:  Judgment and Eternal Punishment

But if you choose to reject God's free offer of salvation, you must remember it is God's creation and we are accountable to Him. He does have the right to punish us for our sin. If you reject Jesus or disobey Him and scorn Him, be warned – you will have to pay the penalty of your own sin. God has created a place of punishment called Hell. Those who are not saved will spend eternity there. They will no be able to seek the escape of death, for they will be dying eternally, and eternally renewed unto the same sufferings and death and they will not be able to get out. God speaks much about Hell to warn us.  One thing he said was:

Apocalypse 20:12: "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works." 

Apocalypse 14:11: "And the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever: neither have they rest day nor night".

Only the foolish would choose hell instead of God's free offer of Salvation.  Which do you choose?

A Personal Challenge

Carefully think through what you have read, but don't fall into the trap of putting off choosing heaven until the end of your life. None of us knows when we will die. The Eternal Judge has also clearly told us He will suddenly and unexpectedly return to earth one day. After that you will no longer be able to choose. Jesus reminded people of this when he said:

St. Matthew 24:37-39: "And as in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark, And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be."

The day of your death or the time of Christ's return, will be like the day when God shut the door on Noe's Ark. After that there was no more opportunity to be saved from God's judgment. Don't delay. Now is the time to be saved and make sure your name is written in Gods Book of Life.

No human being knows when Christ will return, but if Jesus Christ is your Saviour, you can look forward to that day, when there will be no more evil or sorrow and you will see and know Our Blessed Lord Jesus face to face, in all His mercy, splendour, might and glory, forever without end

Saturday, October 23, 2010

St. Raphael the Archangel, pray for us!

Today (Sunday Oct 24) is the Feast Day of St. Raphael the Archangel.  We know comparatively little about him, but we do know that he has appeared on earth in the form of a man in order to aid Tobias during his time of trial.

Tobias of the tribe and city of Nephtali was made captive by the Assyrians.  The king of Israel made golden calves, but Tobias always fled alone and adored the Lord God of Israel.  He performed many works of mercy among his fellow captive brethren.

King Sennacherib ordered the slaying of many of the children of Israel, but Tobias buried their bodies (burying the dead is one of the corporal works of mercy), lest they remain in the streets.  He risked his life in doing so, for if the king had known, Tobias himself would have been put to death.  This he did in addition to his regular duties, exhausting himself for the honour of the children of Israel, in the love of God.

Tobias 2:10-18: "Now it happened one day, that being wearied with burying, he came to his house, and cast himself down by the wall and slept, And as he was sleeping, hot dung out of a swallow's nest fell upon his eyes, and he was made blind.  Now this trial the Lord therefore permitted to happen to him, that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, as also of holy Job.  For whereas he had always feared God from his infancy, and kept his commandments, he repined not against God because the evil of blindness had befallen him,  But continued immoveable in the fear of God, giving thanks to God all the days of his life. For as the kings insulted over holy Job: so his relations and kinsmen mocked at his life, saying:  Where is thy hope, for which thou gavest alms, and buriedst the dead? But Tobias rebuked them, saying: Speak not so: For we are the children of the saints, and look for that life which God will give to those that never change their faith from him."

Tobias 3: "Then Tobias sighed, and began to pray with tears, Saying: Thou art just, O Lord, and all thy judgments are just, and all thy ways mercy, and truth, and judgment: And now, O Lord, think of me, and take not revenge of my sins, neither remember my offenses, nor those of my parents. For we have not obeyed thy commandments, therefore are we delivered to spoil and to captivity, and death, and are made a fable, and a reproach to all nations, amongst which thou hast scattered us.  And now, O Lord, great are thy judgments, because we have not done according to thy precepts, and have not walked sincerely before thee:

"And now, O Lord, do with me according to thy will, and command my spirit to be received in peace: for it is better for me to die, than to live.  Now it happened on the same day, that Sara daughter of Raguel, in Rages a city of the Medes, received a reproach from one of her father's servant maids, Because she had been given to seven husbands, and a devil named Asmodeus had killed them, at their first going in unto her. So when she reproved the maid for her fault, she answered her, saying: May we never see son, or daughter of thee upon the earth, thou murderer of thy husbands. Wilt thou kill me also, as thou hast already killed seven husbands? At these words she went into an upper chamber of her house: and for three days and three nights did neither eat nor drink:

"But continuing in prayer with tears besought God, that he would deliver her from this reproach.  And it came to pass on the third day, when she was making an end of her prayer, blessing the Lord,  She said: Blessed is thy name, O God of our fathers: who when thou hast been angry, wilt shew mercy, and in the time of tribulation forgivest the sins of them that call upon thee.  To thee, O Lord, I turn my face, to thee I direct my eyes.  I beg, O Lord, that thou loose me from the bond of this reproach, or else take me away from the earth.

"Thou knowest, O Lord, that I never coveted a husband, and have kept my soul clean from all lust. Never have I joined myself with them that play: neither have I made myself partaker with them that walk in lightness.  But a husband I consented to take, with thy fear, not with my lust.  And either I was unworthy of them, or they perhaps were not worthy of me: because perhaps thou hast kept me for another man.  For thy counsel is not in man's power.

"But this every one is sure of that worshippeth thee, that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned: and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to thy mercy. For thou art not delighted in our being lost: because after a storm thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping thou pourest in joyfulness. Be thy name, O God of Israel, blessed for ever. At that time the prayers of them both were heard in the sight of the glory of the most high God: And the holy angel of the Lord, Raphael was sent to heal them both, whose prayers at one time were rehearsed in the sight of the Lord."

From here continues the beautiful history of the helps given to Tobias and Raguel through the holy archangel Raphael.  It is very profitable indeed to read the book of Tobias, especially for men and women who are united in holy matrimony or who expect to be.

Lessons from Tobias:
Tobias 4: "Therefore when Tobias thought that his prayer was heard that he might die, he called to him Tobias his son, And said to him: Hear, my son, the words of my mouth, and lay them as a foundation in thy heart. When God shall take my soul, thou shalt bury my body: and thou shalt honour thy mother all the days of her life: For thou must be mindful what and how great perils she suffered for thee in her womb. And when she also shall have ended the time of her life, bury her by me.

"And all the days of thy life have God in thy mind: and take heed thou never consent to sin, nor transgress the commandments of the Lord our God. Give alms out of thy substance, and turn not away thy face from any poor person: for so it shall come to pass that the face of the Lord shall not be turned from thee. According to thy ability be merciful. If thou have much give abundantly: if thou have a little, take care even so to bestow willingly a little.  For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward for the day of necessity.

"For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness. Alms shall be a great confidence before the most high God, to all them that give it. Take heed to keep thyself, my son, from all fornication, and beside thy wife never endure to know a crime.  Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, or in thy words: for from it all perdition took its beginning.  If any man hath done any work for thee, immediately pay him his hire, and let not the wages of thy hired servant stay with thee at all.

"See thou never do to another what thou wouldst hate to have done to thee by another. Eat thy bread with the hungry and the needy, and with thy garments cover the naked.  Lay out thy bread, and thy wine upon the burial of a just man, and do not eat and drink thereof with the wicked. Seek counsel always of a wise man.  Bless God at all times: and desire of him to direct thy ways, and that all thy counsels may abide in him.

"I tell thee also, my son, that I lent ten talents of silver, while thou wast yet a child, to Gabelus, in Rages a city of the Medes, and I have a note of his hand with me: Now therefore inquire how thou mayst go to him, and receive of him the foresaid sum of money, and restore to him the note of his hand.  Fear not, my son: we lead indeed a poor life, but we shall have many good things if we fear God, and depart from all sin, and do that which is good."

The whole book is remarkable (it is, after all, Scripture inspired of God).  I would post the whole thing, but you can go read it on your own.  No commentary I can make will be better than just making the time to read this excellent book.  It is not very long, only fourteen chapters, each about the length of those I have posted above, or even shorter.  Go read it!

And then say some prayers in honour of the great Archangel St. Raphael.  Husbands and wives ask him for his help and protection against temptations of the flesh.  Men and women who might one day marry, ask him for his guidance in doing the will of God the Most High.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Catholics and Interracial Marriages

Every nationality is part of one and the same race: the human race, called to the fellowship of the children of God in the Catholic Church.  Once individuals have entered into this one true Faith of Jesus Christ, they are adopted children of the Most High God.  Who, then, would have the audacity to restrict marriages based upon skin colour or country of origin?  Such a thing is unheard of in the history of the Church.

Romans 10:12: "For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon him."

If it is lawful for a Catholic of one nationality to receive the sacraments from a bishop of another nationality, then it is lawful for a Catholic to enter into the sacrament of matrimony with a Catholic of another nationality.  To say otherwise would almost be an accusation that the Church has enforced eugenics.

Catholicism and American freedom: A History, John T. McGreevy, page 55: "In fact, the Vatican's insistence on the validity of interracial marriage and its opposition to rigid segregation laws made Roman authorities relatively tolerant of racial mixing and opposed to biological notions of racial inferiority."

Despite his able research, I obviously disagree on a couple points with Dr. McGreevy, for example, in that he considers Pius XII to be a valid pope, despite that he was actually an example of a eugenicist, with his teachings wherein he proposed birth control as lawful, and heretical on other matters as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Salutary Discretion of God

No One Is Saved Without Faith

For anyone to be saved, he must have faith, hope and charity.  These must be supernatural, i.e. they must be infused with sanctifying grace by God.  These theological virtues can only exist in members of the Catholic Church.

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302, ex cathedra: "Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins,"

Long has it been held in the Catholic Church that God may save whomever he will, as related concisely in the words of the Apostle:

Romans: 9:21: "Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"

God is in ultimate control of all we will ever experience in our lifetimes, and He never suffers any person to be tempted beyond his ability.  St. Paul relates that God promised him His grace to overcome temptations, even if He would not remove the temptations themselves:

2nd Corinthians 12:7-9: "And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me (i.e. with temptations). For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee;"

This promise is made to each and every rational human creature.  Not only are God's commandments reasonable and possible to fulfill, since God demands nothing beyond what nature can bear, but He continually offers His assistance to us, hence we NEVER have an excuse before God for committing ANY sin. It is in fact heresy to say otherwise:

Pope Innocent X, Cum Occasione, 1652, ex cathedra: "Some of God's precepts are impossible to the just, who wish and strive to keep them, according to the present powers which they have; the grace, by which they are made possible, is also wanting. - Declared and condemned as rash, impious, blasphemous, condemned by anathema, and heretical."

Every temptation or suggestion from the devil (which is not sinful of itself until it is granted consent of the will) is counter balanced by actual graces from God.  These graces are not sanctifying grace, but rather the grace given to all men, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, whereby they are strengthened against temptation and sin, and which, if accepted and followed faithfully, would lead them into the Catholic Faith, and ultimately to Heaven.

God gives this grace freely, and without consideration of the prior merit of the soul, otherwise He should never bestow this gift of grace upon any of us, who are all unworthy of so great a favour.  But by these actual graces, pagans and other non-Catholics are strengthened in performance of good and avoidance of evil.

Outside the Church there cannot exist any supernatural virtue, but only natural faith, hope and charity; although these are naturally good and are aided by the prevenient grace of God, they nevertheless cannot of themselves render a soul pleasing to God until the soul possesses the faith that saves.

Hebrews 11:6: " But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him."

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Decree on Justification, Chapter 1, ex cathedra: "(A)ll men had lost their innocence in the prevarication of Adam-having become unclean, and, as the apostle says, by nature children of wrath, as (this Synod) has set forth in the decree on original sin,-they were so far the servants of sin, and under the power of the devil and of death, that not the Gentiles only by the force of nature, but not even the Jews by the very letter itself of the law of Moses, were able to be liberated, or to arise, therefrom; although free will, attenuated as it was in its powers, and bent down, was by no means extinguished in them."

Romans 10:17: " Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ."

There are examples in history of men who have demonstrated natural virtues, who have complied with the actual graces God has given them, whereby they have been able to be converted and made ready for the saving Faith of Christ.  Scripture proposes to us the example of Cornelius, and Pope Pius IX offers another example in Blessed Caius of Korea.  These men, though they did not know what they ought to believe, nevertheless strove to obey the law written on the hearts of all men, and in so doing, complied with the graces God gave them, erecting no barriers to justification, but rather opening themselves up to receive it.

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Decree on Justification, Chapter 6, ex cathedra: "(W)hile God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight."

It is by accepting and acting on God's graces that men are drawn to the Faith of God.  Having accepted His grace, they are more open to the Truth and, by God's help, have prepared themselves for the acceptance of divine light, whereby they may be profitably enlightened with the Gospel and the reception of sanctifying grace in Baptism, which renders them supernaturally good and pleasing to God.  In Holy Baptism, the three supernatural virtues are immediately infused into the soul:

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Decree on Justification, Chapter 7, ex cathedra: "(T)he instrumental cause is the sacrament of Baptism, which is the sacrament of Faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified [...] For, although no one can be just, but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification of the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth, by the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity."

Does God convert ONLY those who accept and comply with ALL his graces?

Such a position would be difficult indeed to support when considering the many sinners and infidels who have ultimately converted.  St. Paul killed Christians before his conversion.  St. Cyprian was a warlock in league with Satan before his conversion.  St. Augustine was a lecher, and so on.  And these (previously) mortal sinners became three of the holiest and greatest Early Christian Fathers ever!  We must never lose sight that God may save whomever He will.

Romans 9:21: "Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"

St. Matthew 9:11-13: "And the Pharisees seeing it, said to his disciples: Why doth your master eat with publicans and sinners? But Jesus hearing it, said: They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill. Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners"

But God certainly does not owe sinners another day on this earth.  Obstinacy in sin is asking for damnation.  It is important to note that every human creature who dies in sin, or dies outside the  true Faith of Jesus Christ goes straight to hell:

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 6, 1439, ex cathedra: "But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains."

Nevertheless, as long as the soul is united to the body, it has not been finally judged and there is time for mercy.  No matter how hardened the sinner, we can, we may, and we ought to pray for his or her conversion right up until the end, since God's grace to convert even hardened sinners is powerful indeed if only they would accept it, as is clear from the beginning of the nineteenth chapter in St. Luke's Gospel.  It is truly their choice.  After that time, however, if they have run on to a final impenitence and died in mortal sin, no man may pray for them, as they have made the eternal and irrevocable choice of everlasting death.

1st St. John 5:16: "He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life shall be given to him, who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto death: for that I say not that any man ask."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Communion with Schismatics, Antipope Pius XI (11) and St. Josaphat

The following portion of the encyclical from Pope Pius IX (9) shows both Most Holy Family Monastery and Antipope Pius XI (11) to be schismatic for rejecting the regulations and decrees of the Church which prohibit communicatio in divinis.

Pope Pius IX (9), Neminem Vestrum, On the Persecution of Armenians, 1854, #5: "In order that the religious communities might enjoy better order, We instructed Our Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to issue an appropriate decree, which We order all parties to observe diligently. In order to remove entirely every controversy and suspicion concerning the doctrine of the Mechitharist monks of Venice, We want you to know that those same monks sent Us a splendid profession of Catholic faith and doctrine, using all the necessary signatures.

"This declaration brought Us great consolation and totally satisfied Our wishes. They eloquently acknowledged and freely received the regulations and decrees which the popes and the sacred congregations published or would publish -- especially those which prohibit communicatio in divinis (communion in holy matters) with schismatics.

"They declare clearly and openly: "Part of their nation whose good and welfare the institute looks after principally and solely is unfortunately found apart from communion with the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church. For that reason, they declare that they recognize and embrace as their brothers those whom the Holy Roman Apostolic Church recognizes as its sons. They acknowledge that they condemn the error of the schismatic Armenians and recognize that they are outside of the Church of Jesus Christ. They profess that they will never cease to pray, to preach, and to care either in words or deeds or writings that those who stray might return to the one and only fold of Jesus Christ, who is alone the highest shepherd and head and whose center is the pope, the successor of Peter, prince of the apostles.""

The following two paragraphs are from the Dimonds' article entitled "Quotes to Refute Radical “Traditionalist” Schismatics"; the first is a quote from Antipoe Pius XI (11) and the second is the Dimonds' conclusion based upon it (all bold, underline, etc. is as it appears in Dimond's article):

Pope Pius XI, Ecclesiam Dei, Encyclical on St. Josaphat, Nov. 12, 1923: “Our Saint [Josaphat] was born of schismatic parents but was validly baptized and received the name of John.  From his earliest years he lived a saintly life.  Although he was much impressed by the splendors of the Slavic liturgy, he always sought therein first and foremost the truth and glory of God.  Because of this, and not because he was impressed by arguments, even as a child he turned towards communion with the Ecumenical, that is, the Catholic Church.  Of this Church he always considered himself a member because of the valid baptism which he had received.  What is more, he felt himself called by a special Providence to re-establish everywhere the holy unity of the Church.”

Pope Pius XI says here in Ecclesiam Dei that St. Josaphat was born of Eastern Schismatic parents in an area which was separated from the Chair of Peter and acceptance of the Papacy.  St. Josaphat was validly baptized as an infant (and thus became a Catholic).  As he grew up, he attended the Eastern Schismatic Slavic liturgy with his parents, but was still a Catholic and even “saintly” according to Pope Pius XI.  He was a Catholic, even though he was attending a schismatic church building, because he had not obstinately embraced the Eastern Schism by rejecting the Papacy.  Thus, his baptism as an infant made him a member of the Church (and subject to the Roman Pontiff) and he did not cease to be a member until he obstinately embraced schism or heresy, which he did not, even though he was attending a schismatic church with his parents.  This is a precise articulation of our position on when the baptized children of heretics become schismatics and/or heretics: it is not at the age of reason, but when they obstinately embrace schism or heresy.

In this "encyclical" the antipope is evidently trying (and succeeding) to convince his followers that a Roman Catholic Saint started off his saintly life by entering a monastery of schismatics.  But here we have a blatant contradiction.  If he had indeed entered a convent of schismatics, then why would Pope Pius IX (9), the very pope whose quote above clearly condemns and forbids communioon in divinis with schismatics, be the very same pope to canonize him!?

But we will see, from an article written before antipope Pius XI (11) took "office", that St. Josaphat was in fact NOT united to schismatics at all.

Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Josaphat Kuncevyc: "The saint's birth occurred in a gloomy period for the Ruthenian Church. Even as early as the beginning of the sixteenth century the Florentine Union had become a dead-letter; in the case of the Ruthenian Church, complete demoralization followed in the wake of its severance from Rome, and the whole body of its clergy became notorious alike for their gross ignorance and the viciousness of their lives. After the Union of Berest’ in 1596 the Ruthenian Church was divided into two contending parties — the Uniates and those who persevered in schism — each with its own hierarchy. Among the leaders of the schismatic party, who laboured to enkindle popular hatred against the Uniates, Meletius Smotryckyj was conspicuous, and the most celebrated of his victims was Josaphat."

Next, we have "The One Year Book of Saints", which tells us explicitly that Josaphat was born to a Catholic family, not a schismatic one as Antipope Pius XI would like us to believe:

While St. Josaphat was a true martyr, the part above that says "a true martyr for unity on the Orthodox side", if it implies that some "Orthodox" schismatic was a martyr, is heresy in opposition to the Council of Florence.

This is even further corroborated, and even more explicitly, by posters at an "Orthodox Christianity" discussion forum (which is, admittedly, only anecdotal evidence, but powerful nonetheless, as it presents the issue from the perspective of the very schismatics, whom Pius XI and Peter Dimond say that Josaphat was worshipping alongside): "Josaphat Kuntsevich was born as John Kuntsevich around 1580 (various sources give 1580, 1582 or 1584 as the year of his birth) in present-day Volodymyr-Volyns'kyy, Ukraine, then the capital of Volhynia (northwestern Ukraine), which at the time was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (a multi-ethnic state whose territory included present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Poland and part of Ukraine).  When John Kuntsevich came of age, he followed in the footsteps of his family's business in mercantile trade and went to work as a merchant's apprentice in the city of Vil'nya (present-day Vilnius, Lithuania) until 1604, when he became a monk under the name of Josaphat in the Uniate "Basilian" monastic order.  In 1609, he was ordained a Uniate presbyter, and in 1617 he was consecrated Uniate bishop of Polatsk (present-day northern Belarus).  While some historical sources indicate that he drew criticism from his Roman Catholic contemporaries for what they considered undue devotion to the Byzantine liturgical, devotional and ecclesiastical heritage of his roots, others indicate that he was quite aggressive and polemical in the cause of Uniatism, refusing to consider the mere possibility of equal rights for Orthodox Christians in the Commonwealth, hindering the consecration of Orthodox Christian bishops and the assignment of Orthodox Christian clergy within its borders, and resorting to police force to confiscate Orthodox Christian properties and break up gatherings of Orthodox Christians in the region.  It is said that he even ordered the exhumation of dead Orthodox Christians and had their corpses thrown to dogs..."

Note that Josaphat was in both instances referred to as having been a Uniate.  What is a Uniate, you might ask?

Here is the online definition of Uniate:  Of or relating to any of several Eastern Christian churches that are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church but retain their own languages, rites, and codes of canon law.

Hence Antipope Pius XI (11) was colouring the facts and leaving the door open for people to break the commandments of the Church on communicatio in divinis with schismatics, and the Dimonds eat it right up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Most Holy Eucharist in today's world

Please read also:
On the Validity of Sacraments

The Truth of the Eucharist

St. John 6:47-59: "Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

"For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever."

The plain and obvious sense of this text is clear and it is this sense which Holy Church held and holds.  The Church Fathers likewise held to this sense, that is, that the Faithful are here bound to the precept of physically consuming the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christin the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 66: "And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19  this is My body; and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, This is My blood; and gave it to them alone."

Hence the clear and obvious words of the Apostle:

1 Corinthians 11:24-29: "And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.  For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.  Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord."

The Eucharist Today

A big question that seems to be on many people's minds now is this:  Is the Novus Ordo a valid Eucharist?  But this question is a red herring, and solid Catholic theology will show why.

First we need to understand that certain sects possess a valid priesthood and valid sacraments, but this does not give them the RIGHT to use them.  They have in fact lost the right by being outside the one true Church of Christ.  This truth is implicitly contained even as far back as the Old Testament:.

Exodus 12:3-5: "On the tenth day of this month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses. But if the number be less than may suffice to eat the lamb, he shall take unto him his neighbour that joineth to his house, according to the number of souls which may be enough to eat the lamb. And it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male, of one year: according to which rite also you shall take a kid."

This is a figure of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and  if we read all of Exodus Chapter 12, we find clear exhortations from God to the Israelites that they must not depart from the houses wherein the blood of the lamb has been sprinkled, or they should be destroyed along with the firstborn of Egypt. 

Likewise, the Catholic Church teaches that anybody who partakes of the Body of Christ outside the Church will be destroyed:

Pope Pius VIII, Traditi Humilitati (# 4), May 24, 1829: “Jerome used to say it this way: he who eats the Lamb outside this house will perish as did those during the flood who were not with Noah in the ark.”

Thus it is clear the whether or not this or that sect has a valid Eucharist, we must still rather suffer any and every physical pain, even death, rather than receive Communion at their hands.  The example of the holy martyr St. Hermenegild contains a valuable be a lesson for us, as does the constant teaching of the Church.

But does Christ not say that without the Eucharist a person cannot be saved?

This question arises from a reading of the passage above in St. John where Our Lord says: "Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day."

But here it must be understood that not everything Christ said was directed at the generality of believers as an absolute statement.  In the above quotation, it is well to note that He says "except YOU", thereby expressly limiting his declaration to those whom He was addressing.  This makes sense, since those who were in His presence at that time would also be around to receive the Eucharist from the Apostles as they spread the Faith throughout the world.

Furthermore, the sense in which He makes the declaration clearly hinges on the audiences willingness to believe in Him and His doctrine.  Having revealed His holiness and His power by many signs, He spoke obscurely in order to test His disciples.  Many left Him, and thus their faith in Him was never truly motivated by charity, but when He asks the Twelve Apostles: "Will you also go away?", St. Peter replied: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God."

So the precept laid down by Christ is one of discipline, that is to say, that unless a person who believes in Him honours and reveres  Blessed Sacrament by receiving it rightly, if he is not prevented from doing so, he will not have life in him.  Thus from this we see that it is sin to avoid receiving the Eucharist from true Catholic clergy if we are able to do so.

This is much different than the absolute statement that Christ made concerning Baptism, when he said, in St. John 3:5: "Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Note the difference here:  Christ says unless a man (in Latin: quis, which means "anyone") be born again...  He is not limiting His declaration to a specific audience as He did when He laid down the precept of receiving His Body and Blood, and hence without Baptism, even if it seems one is hindered by no fault of his own, he cannot enter heaven.

What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?